June 3, 2024

Business aircraft flight crews should familiarize themselves with recent changes to Border Force security procedures required to enter the United Kingdom.

The General Aviation Regulations 2024 (GAR) recently went into effect, requiring specified flight and passenger information to be submitted online between two and 48 hours ahead of the expected time of departure. Information must be sent through the GAR web service on gov.uk or through an approved third-party provider or app.

“We’ve informed operators and their passengers that, much like traveling to the United States, you can’t send the passengers without waiting a certain time limit for approval,” said Georgina Davidson, customer relations and operational compliance manager for Signature Aviation at London Luton Airport (LTN).

Border Force officials have adopted a strict line on GAR submissions. “The process itself is rather simple, but it will take time for everyone to get used to it,” Davidson added. “Data submitted to the GAR must match the data on the passport and they’re very strict on the timings.”

Stan Medved, corporate aviation manager for Shell Aircraft Limited, also found that to be true. “The GAR system allows submissions to be made at any time outside that two-48 hour window,” he noted, which led to a Border Force warning to a PIC after their trip services provider submitted a GAR for arrival into Farnborough Airport (FAB) 50 hours before their departure.

“There’s still some tidying up to do on the process,” Medved added. “We would also be happy to see something along the lines of ‘trusted’ or ‘pre-cleared’ status to enable last minute passenger and crew changes to allow business aviation to be flexible while addressing the border control risks.”

Border Force officials also announced recently the UK’s Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) program will gradually expand beyond current requirements for those from certain Middle Eastern countries to all nationalities who do not currently require visas if staying in the UK for six months or less. Responses typically take around three business days, with ETA approvals valid for two years.

“We strongly encourage all international flight operations to be aware of the GAR and to prepare for ETA changes for passengers traveling to the UK,” said Brian Koester, NBAA director of flight operations and regulations. “While neither of these new or expanded initiatives are particularly onerous, noncompliance may result in significant fines or difficulties for entering the UK.”